Getting your business to stand out in a crowded marketplace is tough, especially when you don’t have a big budget and you’re competing with “the big guys.” But for small, local businesses, a consistent stream of positive reviews can do more than just level the playing field – it can make you the business of choice. Reviews can have a massive influence on purchasing decisions and can dramatically boost your credibility.
But, there’s one common mistake that many business owners make. In most cases, simply asking “Would you mind giving me a review?” won’t cut it. Throughout this post, I’ll cover some of the key do’s and don’ts of asking for customer reviews and discuss some creative hacks and expert tips for maximizing the impact of each review you get.
Ready to make a huge impact on your business reputation? Let’s dive right in!
The Do’s of Asking for Customer Reviews
It’s true that sometimes the easiest way to get a review is just to ask. However, if you want to consistently generate a stream of reviews, there are some important strategies you need to be aware of. The following tips will help improve the chances that your customers will actually take the time to write a review and ensure that your requests don’t inadvertently step on any toes.
1. Make it Easy for Customers to Leave Reviews
When you ask someone to leave you a review, the last thing you want is to make them jump through a bunch of hoops. Remember that the easier the process is, the more likely it is that they’ll follow through.
One of the most important things you can do is provide customers with direct links to your review page, minimizing the steps they need to take. You may also consider creating a QR code that customers can easily scan, allowing them to leave a review right from their phone. To get the most out of your QR codes, consider framing the code and placing it next to your check-out register, or adding it to customer receipts.
2. Personalize Your Request
You want your customers to know they’re not just another sale or ticket number, so make sure to use their name when reaching out. If possible, you might also want to mention the specific product or service they bought. This not only shows you pay attention, but it also reinforces the personal experience they had with your business, making them more inclined to share their thoughts.
A word of warning, though, if you’re going to automate the process, be careful. The last thing you want is to get the name wrong, mention the wrong product or service, or word your request in an overly generic way, as this can actually have the opposite effect.
3. Time Your Requests Appropriately
The impact of a review request can be significantly influenced by its timing. Aim to send requests shortly after the customer makes their purchase or you complete a service, since that’s when the experience is freshest in their minds.
However, you should also be considerate of the overall customer journey and recognize when it’s most appropriate to reach out. Make sure you give the customer enough time to use and evaluate the product or service before asking for a review. If they don’t have an opinion yet, they may be hesitant to leave a review or unsure what to say.
4. Send a Follow Up Request (or Two)
Sometimes, people need a gentle nudge. If someone hasn’t left a review after your initial request, consider sending a reminder. Just make sure not to overdo it. Too many reminders can feel spammy and deter customers. Stick to reminding customers three days after your initial request, and maybe send another reminder four days after that.
While you could try to remember to follow up on your own, it’s definitely better to use a system that will automatically follow up if a review hasn’t been completed. This way, you won’t have to use your brain power to think about it or take the chance of missing opportunities.
5. Incentivize (When Allowed)
Everyone loves a good perk. Offering rewards like discounts, giveaways, or loyalty points for reviews can significantly improve your results. However, it’s crucial to ensure any feedback, incentivized or not, remains genuine. The value of reviews is that they are authentic, so they should reflect the genuine feelings and experiences of the customer. While incentives can be used to motivate customers to leave reviews, they shouldn’t dictate the tone or content of the review.
Now, here’s where you need to tread carefully: Some platforms, like Google and Yelp, have stringent guidelines against incentivized reviews. You definitely don’t want to run afoul of these platforms, as you could face consequences ranging from having the reviews removed to more severe penalties like suspension. So, while there’s nothing wrong with a good incentive, it’s also essential to be transparent and make sure you’re playing by the rules.
6. Use Multiple Channels
There are many ways to reach out to customers, so don’t limit yourself. Mix things up by using a variety of different methods – like email, text message, website popups, or even printing a request on customer receipts.
Just keep in mind that it’s not about blasting your customers from every direction. Test different channels and figure out which ones resonate best with your audience. Then, adjust your approach accordingly.
7. Respond to Reviews – Both Positive and Negative
Engaging with your customers post-review is pivotal. For the glowing reviews, a simple acknowledgment and thanks can reinforce a positive relationship. For the less-than-stellar reviews, it’s even more important to respond.
Address the reviewer’s concerns, offer solutions, and show that you’re committed to continuous improvement. Remember, it’s not just about that one reviewer – potential customers will also see how you handle feedback and form impressions based on it.
When it comes to timing, it’s usually best to respond promptly, as this shows customers you’re attentive and value their input. But there’s one exception – if you come across a negative review that strikes a nerve and you’re feeling heated, take a breather. It’s better to give yourself some time to cool down and craft a thoughtful, professional response than to react impulsively and risk further damage.
The Don’ts of Asking for Reviews
Sometimes, knowing what not to do can protect your reputation and ensure you don’t inadvertently offend or upset your customers. Here are a few mistakes you’ll want to avoid.
1. Don’t Make Reviews Mandatory
Your customers should always feel that their feedback is voluntary. Never trap them into leaving a review to access promotions or discounts or pressure them to leave reviews. This can come off as coercive and might not elicit genuine feedback. Even worse, it can damage your relationship with your customers.
2. Don’t Assume Silence is Approval
It’s a common belief that no news is good news. However, in the world of reviews, a lack of feedback doesn’t necessarily mean satisfaction. Rather than assuming silent customers are happy, actively seek their feedback. It’s better to understand their experience and proactively address potential concerns than to keep making the same mistakes without knowing that it’s causing issues.
3. Don’t Forget to Analyze and Adjust
Collecting reviews isn’t just about accumulating stars and comments. Avoid treating them as one-off feedback. Instead, consistently analyze your reviews to uncover patterns, common concerns, or repeated praises. If multiple customers bring up the same issue, it’s a sign that it needs immediate attention.
4. Don’t Delete or Hide Negative Reviews
While it’s tempting to keep your online profile spotless, erasing negative feedback isn’t the solution. Prospective customers often look for negative reviews to gauge the worst-case scenario and see how businesses handle criticism. Transparency is key. Address negative feedback openly and demonstrate commitment to improvement.
5. Don’t Set It and Forget It
If you’re automating review requests, be cautious. Systems can sometimes go haywire. Regularly check your automated processes to ensure customers aren’t being bombarded or receiving requests at inappropriate times.
Maximize the Impact of Your Customer Reviews
You’ve done the groundwork: requesting reviews, ensuring a streamlined process, and engaging with customers post-feedback. Now, it’s time to use these reviews as a powerful tool to drive further business growth and establish trust. But how?
The first step is to understand that simply collecting reviews isn’t enough. To genuinely harness their power, you need to weave them into your business narrative and strategy. Here are some expert pointers on getting the most mileage out of your customer reviews.
1. Showcase Your Best Reviews
Your customers have gone to the effort of praising your work, so don’t let those golden words gather digital dust! Spotlight standout reviews where potential clients can see them. Consider sharing reviews on your social media platforms, your website’s homepage, in email campaigns, or even displayed prominently in your brick-and-mortar store. Not only does this offer social proof, but it also instills confidence in prospective customers.
2. Create a Review FAQ
Reviews are beneficial when they’re detailed and insightful. While some customers naturally pen extensive feedback, others may be at a loss for words. Help them out! Draft a simple FAQ or guidelines for what makes a helpful review. Suggest that they talk about specific features they liked, any challenges they faced, and perhaps how your product or service compared to alternatives they’ve tried. This nudges customers to provide detailed feedback, which can be more helpful to prospects.
3. Engage with Reviewers Beyond the Review Platform
Reviews can be the starting point of a deeper customer relationship. If a reviewer provides particularly insightful feedback, consider reaching out to them directly. You may consider asking them if they would be willing to participate in an in-depth case study, a detailed testimonial, or even to collaborate on feedback sessions for product improvement. It’s a win-win – they get to voice their opinions in a more amplified manner, and you get detailed and actionable feedback.
4. Use Negative Reviews as Learning Opportunities
It might sound counterintuitive, but negative reviews can be gold mines of information. Instead of shying away from them, dig deep and identify common themes or consistent pain points. Addressing these issues can lead to significant improvements, turning potential weaknesses into strengths.
5. Share Reviews Internally
If you’re a small business owner, don’t keep those valuable customer reviews to yourself. Make sure to share them with your employees, marketing team, and customer service staff. Reviews offer rich insights that can influence not only your marketing strategies but also the way you deliver your products or services. Plus, positive feedback can boost team morale, and constructive criticism can offer actionable points for improvement. By sharing these reviews internally, everyone stays in the loop and has the opportunity to contribute to ongoing business improvements.
6. Consider Video Testimonials
With the rise of visual content, consider asking some of your most loyal or satisfied customers if they’d be willing to provide a video testimonial. These can be incredibly persuasive and offer a more personal touch than written reviews. They’re particularly effective when shared on social media platforms or your website’s landing page.
Turn Those Reviews into Revenues!
Harnessing the power of customer reviews isn’t just about looking good online – it’s about building trust, growing relationships, and yes, boosting your bottom line. But here’s the secret: it doesn’t have to be complicated.
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